Allspice is thought to be native to Central America, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Jamaica; the exact native range is vague due to extensive human cultivation. Introduced to Hawaiʻi from Jamaica in 1885, allspice escapes cultivation and naturalizes. In Hawaiʻi, viable propagules are spread by birds and possibly bats, lizards, and insects. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife of the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources has designated this species as one of Hawaiʻi’s Most Invasive Horticultural Plants.
Description and Dispersal:
- A small tree up to 30 ft with light gray bark that peels in thin sheets
- Leathery, glossy green leaves (8 in long by 2 in wide) grow in an opposite pattern and have a spice odor when crushed
- Male trees produce small white flowers (1/4 in) at the leaf base, females produce brownish green, spicy, pea-sized berries
- Seeds are spread by birds